Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

To catch a film setting II

Catching up from last week, I was trying to figure out why a place I visited in the south of France seemed vaguely familiar to me.

Of course, the French Riviera has been famously used in a lot of films over the years, particularly ones trying to give the audience a healthy dose of European glamour. BoxOfficeQuant points to such movies as the Frank Oz comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and the Bond films Never Say Never Again and Goldeneye as having been been filmed somewhere generally in the area. Goldeneye also had filming in nearby Grasse, up in the mountains, as did Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Another Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever, is noted for Antibes, and that town’s Marineland is noted for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Cannes itself is highlighted for The Transporter and Mr. Bean’s Holiday, which actually has footage of the Festival de Cannes. Further east down the coast (Nice and beyond), we find references to such movies as Swordfish, Ronin and The Bucket List. The nearby principality of Monaco has some of the aforementioned movies as well as Iron Man 2, Ocean’s Twelve and the lovely travel documentary Hostel: Part II.

The medieval village of Gourdon

Strangely, some obvious movies associated with the Riviera don’t show up at all or else I didn’t come across their little buttons to click on. Chief among these would be Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 classic To Catch a Thief. But if we want to know specifically where filming was done for that movie, there are web sites that focus on that expressly. A very cool one is called Le Stuff. The author has “spent the last ten years dividing time between my home in the states and a small apartment in a medieval village in the hills behind the French Riviera,” and he has devoted a chunk of the blog to detailing where scenes from To Catch a Thief were filmed. We are informed, among other things, that the villa where Cary Grant’s character lives is on the road leading to the village of Saint Jeannet. When the police drive up to see him, at one point Gourdon (the place that got me started wondering about film locations in the first place) can be seen in the distance. Gourdon also figures in a chase scene that also includes nearby Le Bar sur Loup and Tourettes sur Loup. Le Stuff also follows Grant to Monaco (future home of his gorgeous co-star Grace Kelly, whose own ancestral roots just happen to lie a short drive from where I currently live), the beach at Cannes and the flower market at Nice. An interesting insight provided by Le Stuff is that a wide shot of Grant’s villa is actually Gourdon! It turns out my idle speculation about filming there was clearly some subliminal recognition of scenery from a film I had seen years earlier.

View from Gourdon
A view from Gourdon

Bravo, Le Stuff! Every area that has a history of movie location shooting should have someone like you to document where it all happened.

-S.L., 21 July 2011

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